Economic Substance Regulations

Maintain Accurate Financial Records and Up-to-date Books of accounts!

Economic Substance Regulations (ESR) in the UAE are guidelines established to ensure that companies operating within the UAE engage in substantial economic activities and demonstrate real economic presence. These regulations require relevant businesses to maintain adequate economic substance in the UAE relative to the activities they undertake. The key objectives are to align with global standards set by the OECD and the EU to prevent harmful tax practices and ensure transparency. Companies must meet specific criteria, including core income-generating activities, adequate management and control in the UAE, sufficient full-time employees, incurred operational expenses, and adequate physical assets. Non-compliance with ESR can result in penalties and administrative actions.

Economic Substance Regulations

Guidance on applying the Regulations was issued on 11 September 2019 (Ministerial Decision No. 215 of 2019), and Cabinet Decision No. 58/2019 on the Determination of Regulatory Competencies lists the Regulatory Authorities tasked with administering and enforcing the Regulations. Amendments to the Regulations were made by Cabinet of Ministers Resolution No. (57) of 2020 on 10 August 2020 and an updated Guidance was issued on 19 August 2020. The rules mandate that UAE companies in onshore and free zones, along with other business entities performing specified “Relevant Activities,” must show a sufficient level of “economic presence” in the country about their activities to pass the “Economic Substance Test.”


The Regulations apply to financial years starting on or after January 1, 2019. Entities covered by the Regulations must submit an annual Notification form to their Regulatory Authority and an Economic Substance Report within 12 months of the end of their financial year (e.g., by December 31, 2020, for a financial year ending December 31, 2019). Entities do not need to meet the Economic Substance Test or file an Economic Substance Report for any financial period in which they have not earned income from a Relevant Activity or if they qualify for an exemption. However, a Notification form must still be submitted. Failure to comply with the Regulations can result in penalties, information exchange with foreign authorities, and other administrative sanctions, such as the suspension, revocation, or non-renewal of the entity’s trade license or permit.

Purpose of the Notification

The purpose of the notification is to give regulatory authorities initial information about licensees and their activities in the UAE during the relevant reportable period. This information is a prerequisite for filing an Economic Substance Report for the same period if required.

Who Needs to Submit a Notification?

A Notification must be filed if you are a corporate entity (such as a Limited Liability Company, Public Joint Stock Company, Private Joint Stock Company, etc.) or a partnership (such as a Limited Liability Partnership, General Partnership, etc.) that conducts any of the following Relevant Activities in the UAE during the relevant Financial Year.

Economic Substance in the UAE

Relevant Activities

  • Banking Business
  • Insurance Business
  • Investment Fund Management Business
  • Lease – Finance Business
  • Headquarters Business
  • Shipping Business
  • Holding Company Business
  • Intellectual property Business (“IP”)
  • Distribution and Service Center Business

Deadline for Filing a Notification

The notification must be filed within six months of the Licensee’s financial year-end. Notification is mandatory for the companies; non-compliance with the obligation to file a Notification before the deadline is subject to a penalty of AED 20,000.

Financial Year End Notification Deadline (6 months) Reporting Deadline (12months)
31-Mar 30-Sept 31-Mar
30-Jun 31-Dec 30-jun
30-Sep 31-Mar 30-Sep
31-Dec 30-Jun 31-Dec

Penalty of Incorrect Notification Information

Providing incorrect or false information in the Notification is subject to a penalty of AED 50,000. If a Licensee knowingly provides incorrect or false information or falsely claims an exemption from the Economic Substance Regulations, they may be considered to have failed the Economic Substance Test for the relevant Reportable Period.


If a Licensee claims to be an “Exempted Licensee,” it must specify the grounds for exemption under Question 1A-1E and furnish the required documentation to prove its exempt status.


An Exempted Licensee is not required to submit an Economic Substance Report or demonstrate Economic Substance in the UAE for Reportable Periods during which it meets the criteria for exemption.

1.A. The license is wholly owned by UAE nationals or UAE resident individuals who reside in the UAE,  is not part of a multinational group, and only operates in the UAE.

1.B. Licensee is an Investment Fund as defined in the Regulations.

1.C. A licensee is a particular purpose vehicle or investment holding company of an Investment Fund as defined in the Regulations.

1.D.  The licensee is resident for tax purposes in a jurisdiction other than the UAE.

1.E. Licensee is a UAE branch of a foreign company, and all income of the UAE branch is subject to tax in the jurisdiction of the foreign company

frequently asked questions

Accounting is the process of interpreting, classifying, and summarizing financial information for decision-making, while bookkeeping is the process of recording financial transactions in a systematic and organised manner.

The purpose of accounting and bookkeeping is to provide accurate and up-to-date financial information that can be used to make informed business decisions, comply with tax laws and regulations, assess the financial health of the company, manage cash flow, and facilitate effective business planning.

Accounting and bookkeeping functions can be performed by trained professionals, such as certified public accountants (CPAs), bookkeepers, and accounting software.
Accounting and bookkeeping records should be updated regularly, usually on a monthly or quarterly basis, to ensure that the company's financial information is accurate and up to date.

Outsourcing accounting and bookkeeping functions can save time, reduce costs, and improve the accuracy and reliability of financial information. It can also allow business owners to focus on their core competencies and leave the financial management to experts.

Common mistakes in accounting and bookkeeping include errors in recording transactions, incorrect classification of transactions, incorrect posting to the general ledger, and failure to reconcile accounts.

Best practices for accounting and bookkeeping include regular updates of financial information, thorough review of financial records, segregation of duties, and periodic internal and external audits.

Why Choose ADEPTS

Expertise and Experience
At Adepts Chartered Accountants, our team consists of highly skilled professionals with extensive experience in managing complex regulatory and accounting standards. We are proficient in both local and international regulations, ensuring our services are accurate and fully compliant.
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Recognizing the unique nature of each Business, we offer customizable services designed to align with your specific needs and business objectives. We collaborate closely with you to understand your requirements and deliver solutions that achieve optimal results.
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By choosing our services, you benefit from significant savings in time and resources. Our solutions are engineered to be cost-effective, providing high-quality support without the need for substantial internal investment.
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We prioritize accuracy and compliance in every aspect of our service. Our meticulous approach and rigorous procedures ensure precision and adherence to standards, reducing the risk of errors and the potential for non-compliance penalties.
Dependable Service
Dedicated to delivering reliable and consistent services, we aim to build long-term relationships with our clients based on trust, integrity, and mutual respect.
Expertise and experience
Adepts Chartered Accountants is a team of experienced and knowledgeable professionals who have extensive experience in providing accounting and bookkeeping services. They have the necessary skills, training, and knowledge to ensure accurate and efficient financial management.
Customized solutions
Adepts Chartered Accountants understands that each business has unique accounting and bookkeeping needs. They work closely with clients to tailor their services to meet the specific requirements of each business.
Time Saving
By outsourcing accounting and bookkeeping functions to Adepts Chartered Accountants, business owners can save time and focus on their core competencies. This allows them to devote more time and energy to other critical areas of their business.
Cost Effective
Adepts Chartered Accountants provides cost-effective accounting and bookkeeping services that help businesses reduce their overall financial management costs.
Improved Accuracy
Adepts Chartered Accountants utilizes advanced technology and software to ensure accurate and up-to-date financial information. Their processes and procedures are designed to minimize errors and ensure that financial information is reliable.
Compliance with Regulations
Adepts Chartered Accountants stay up-to-date with the latest accounting and bookkeeping regulations to ensure that clients comply with all relevant laws and regulations. This helps to minimize the risk of legal penalties and reputational damage.
Peace of mind
By outsourcing accounting and bookkeeping functions to Adepts Chartered Accountants, business owners can have peace of mind knowing that their financial information is in safe hands. They can trust that their financial records are being handled professionally and efficiently.
Adepts Chartered Accountants provide flexible accounting and bookkeeping services that can be customized to meet the changing needs of clients. They are responsive to client needs and can adapt quickly to changing circumstances.